Tottenham Hotspur vs Fulham
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Anthony Taylor
In a strange subversion of the norm, high-spending Fulham will travel to face a Tottenham side who didn’t spend a penny in the summer window, in a match that will seriously test the strength of Fulham’s new recruits.
Despite their total lack of transfer activity, with neither ins nor outs across the squad, Tottenham Hotspur got off to a winning start last weekend in a 2-1 victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park. Tottenham surprisingly bought back nearly all of their players who were expected to be rested due to the World Cup, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Jan Vertonghen starting (with two of them scoring).
Pochettino’s side looked very sharp and composed in the first half but lost their way in the second, with Newcastle hitting the woodwork twice and squandering a few clear-cut chances as well. One particular incident in that second half involved Newcastle’s Kenedy going clear on goal after the entirety of Tottenham’s defence and midfield got sucked onto the left side of the pitch, allowing one pass to give Kenedy over forty yards of clear space on his own.
His poor touch saved the defenders blushes on that occasion but the sight of such disorganisation may worry fans, and will be hoping that it does not become a running theme for the rest of the season.
After their summer spending reaching over 100 million pounds (a first for a newly promoted team) Fulham were bought crashing back down to earth after a 2-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace on the opening day. Fulham, along with Wolves, have been a popular tip to do well this season in the Premier League but on the evidence of the opening weekend it may take some time for their new signings to gel together.
They have plenty of time to get used to the high-tempo nature of the league but won’t relish facing two losses out of two by travelling to a team as good as Tottenham on only the second week of the season; their manager Jokanović will believe his side can win anywhere but a much improved performance will have to be present if they are to shock a member of the top six teams. A stat that will concern Fulham is that Tottenham have won their last eighteen games at home against newly promoted teams – it will be a challenge to prevent that run from being added to on Saturday.
Tottenham will now be without Heung-Min Son until the conclusion of the Asian Games for which he is representing South Korea – anything but a gold medal win in that competition and Son will be facing a mandatory two year stint in the military for his country, an obligation Tottenham and the player himself will be desperate to avoid.
Aside from that Tottenham will have every player from their last squad still available to them, and it will be interesting to see if players such as Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose can find a way back into the team, after reports of their imminent transfers away from the club failed to materialise. Kieran Trippier, who was given extra time away after his World Cup campaign, may not be fit enough yet to return for this match.
Fulham may welcome defender Tim Ream back into the match-day squad after the injury that has delayed his start to the season. One of the main summer signings, Alfie Mawson, is still recovering from surgery that he underwent at the end of his Swansea City campaign back in the summer, and should still be unavailable for this game. This game may see the debut of £25 million pound deadline-day signing André Zambo Anguissa, who could slot into the midfield right along side Jean Michaël Seri.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-3) – Lloris; Aurier, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Davies; Dier, Alli, Eriksen; Moura, Lamela, Kane
Fulham (4-3-3) – Fabri; Christie, Ream, Le Marchand, Bryan; Seri, Anguissa, Cairney; Sessegnon, Schürrle, Mitrovic
Score Prediction – Tottenham Hotspur 3 Fulham 1
Tottenham Hotspur should have too much for a Fulham side who are still finding their feet in the Premier League, despite a plethora of summer-signings that had them tipped as potential overachievers this season.
It would be surprising if Fulham sat deep and played defensive against the top teams but if they plan to go blow for blow against a team as strong as Tottenham they will most likely get punished. It may compound a tough start to life in the Premier League for Fulham but panicking shouldn’t be an option, while Tottenham would be very pleased with two early wins.